My dad’s a big boat racer, but he’s also a miniature boat racer. I watched a few races when we were in Florida, and I made this:
Even with some help from Hugin and some custom Gimp scripts, it was surprisingly labor intensive. Also Enblend just bails out rather than attempt to actually blend it. That’s ok; I kind of like the collage look.
For the record: there were 3 boats in this race. He won.
Living without working net for the past … I don’t even know, it’s all a blur … was tough, especially if watching a lot of TV is compatible with your definition of “tough”.
Anyway, the net is not the only thing that’s returning to a previous state. I’m headed to those Old Stomping Grounds once again this weekend. My parents are officially, seriously moving, and that will make this ~30th Memorial Day picnic the very last ever at the house where I was raised. I hear it’s already been substantially drained, as my parents have identified and liquidated all the possessions they’ve been itching to be rid of all these years.
I feel like I should be there, so I will be. But I’ll be in Boston first, because why not.
Maintaining home technology is hard. I think the problem now is my cable modem … and maybe dirty power from the elevator repairs? Lint buildup from the unvented dryer? Overheating from the thermostatically impaired heating system (and beautiful summer weather!)? Weak signal strength from ancient wiring, through plugs that were at some point blithely painted over, contacts and all?
Anyway, I apologize for the impaired uptime. Maybe I should have opted for the monthly modem rental from Comcast after all.
EDIT: OK, actually now I’m convinced this is Comcast’s fault.
64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_req=42 ttl=62 time=7.12 ms
64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_req=43 ttl=62 time=12745 ms
64 bytes from 220.127.116.11: icmp_req=56 ttl=62 time=21.5 ms
EDIT2: I called them up and they “re-provisioned” the modem. What is that? Why would it help? I have no idea.
Anyway I think it’s fixed.
EDIT3: Nope, that didn’t fix it. I spent half a day on the phone with them again, even scheduled a house call to check signal quality, before the fifth person I talked to admitted that the problem is already known, building-wide, and they’re planning to fix their hardware today or tomorrow.
EDIT4: So like two weeks, 4 site visits, and 7 phone calls later, I think they fixed it. Maybe. The first guy replaced all my cabling with hand-crimped perfectionist stuff, and it worked great until two minutes after he left. The second guy registered perfect signal quality … and 25% packet loss, which we traced back to the “tap”, i.e. the world’s largest splitter box. Anyway, I just ran pings for half an hour with no connection droppage so … we’ll see.
The free JetBlue headphones I accidentally stole from my aunt in Florida got accidentally broken during this week’s travels in my overstuffed backpack, which is just as well because on the flight back up to Seattle Virgin’s YouTube videos were the same 5 shows I already watched on the flight down.
I was bracing for impending boredom when I remembered that my shiny new Chromebook Pixel comes with 12 free flights of GoGo inflight wifi. I’ve never used the internet on a plane before; I’m too cheap (and spend too much timed browsing already). But since it’s free, I decided to give it a try: opened the Chromebook, selected the sole available network, opened the browser and pointed to a random page. Sign on proved totally painless; no accounts to open, secret codes to remember, etc. SSH works too, although if I wanted to do any serious terminal work I would definitely want MOSH.
So now here I am, at 34217 feet and 543 mph, over the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, . Meanwhile, due to technical difficulties, the staff is resetting the inflight entertainment system. Now it’s showing the X startup stipple.
OK, I think I understand the appeal of inflight wifi now.
The internet-enabled Google buses in the Bay Area have been getting a lot of attention lately. It never seemed all that remarkable to me; lots of companies run employee shuttles, and even your $1 Bolt Bus ticket includes Wi-Fi (and has for years).
On the other hand, I’m on one now, and man is it nice. On this trip, the shuttle saved me from having to rent a car, or take some awful multi-hop public transit route that would have needed twice the time for the same distance. Also, the internet connection is shockingly reliable, though that could have something to do with silicon valley’s wireless infrastructure.
Now I just have to figure out where the heck it took me.
In middle school, I went on a family vacation with my parents to England for a week. As I remember it, our tickets were booked with Continental, but upon arriving at the airport we discovered that the flight was actually a codeshare with Virgin Atlantic. 10-year-old me was ecstatic at the SNES-inspired videogame controller and LCD screen at every seat, and then even more so when the staff handed out nicely printed postcard-size dinner menus.
Last night I flew the short hop to San Francisco on Virgin America, an airline that is distinct from Virgin Atlantic, and did not even exist when I took that flight back in 1996. Nonetheless, the video game controller in the armrest was just as I remembered it. The interior decor, staff demeanor, safety instruction video, and uniform design were all distinctly more stylish, and a hint sexier, than the industry standard. From the blue-tinted overhead lighting to the staff’s self-description as “lovely” and “handsome”, this was Virgin staying true to their brand values.
Some things have changed though. The paper menus are gone, replaced by touchscreen ordering in the entertainment system. (Cocktails are under the heading “The Good Stuff”.) The movies aren’t free, not that the flight was long enough to watch one.
Instead, I spent most of the trip watching selected well-produced YouTube videos, whole series concatenated into 18-minute compendia.
That seems like a change since 1996.
Among the many gifts my parents left behind were a Pyrex 9×13 pan, a small jar of cream cheese, half a dozen eggs, and a Ziploc bag full of lemon sixteenths, maybe from a seafood restaurant doggie bag. I was particularly excited about the 9×13; I even bought a box of brownie mix a few months ago in anticipation of acquiring a pan to bake them in.
Perishable food is always a challenge for me, but this month, with 5 consecutive travel weekends, has been particularly tough. These scheduling challenges create a natural game I call Recipe Constraint Satisfaction.
The winner this time: brownies with lemon-cream cheese frosting. It was a close call on feasibility: squeezing lemon fractions with bare hands stings memorably, and zesting them with a steak knife is a challenge too.
Bottom line: even slightly chunky icing can’t defeat the simple draw of sugar, fat, and chocolate. I even sold a few seconds at rehearsal.
I’ve been to South Florida more times than I can count, and for the most part the perfect summer days (in April), palm trees, endless beaches, humongous grid layout, and pervasive backyard bayous don’t surprise me anymore.
Nonetheless, I got surprised twice, the first day I was here, when each time a pitter-patter of tiny feet caught my attention it turned out not to be a squirrel, but some kind of tiny lizard. One of them was bright green, with a spiral upcurled tail.
It turns out lizards can be very cute.
In old buildings like this one, sometimes the heating is just … screwy. In my case, the thermostat that controls most of the heat in my apartment is in the one next door, or at least that’s the front desk girl’s best guess (and if anyone would know it’s her).
That apartment must be wonderfully chilly.
Sleeping with the windows open isn’t an ideal solution, and not just because my next-door neighbor is an interstate highway. It also wastes a whole lot of energy, which comes back to me in rent and sea levels.
Of course we could fix the heating system, by installing functional thermostats in sensible locations, but that would require hiring plumbers to do some pretty serious welding, in a building with 200 different independently owned units.
Could there be an easier way?
My favorite idea so far: mix a ferrofluid suspension into the heating system, and clamp on electromagnets (or maybe cleverly designed relays) where you want a new choke point. Turn on the field and ferrofluid accumulates -> instant valve.
Last week I was in Boston and Connecticut, and today my parents just flew back from a week hanging out with me around Seattle. Then from Thursday to Sunday I’ll be in Florida for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah, and then the next Wednesday to Sunday I’ll be in San Francisco because hey, it’s pretty close to here.
Not unexpectedly, this means that even though I drive much more in Seattle than I ever did in Boston, I fly way more miles a year than I drive, and my carbon footprint is mostly made of jet fuel.